Thursday, 12 November 2015

Davagh Enduro Night Rider 2015

Davagh Enduro Night Rider
Davagh Forest Trails
7th November 2015

This is the second edition of the Davagh Enduro Night Rider.  Unlike last year the weather was fantastic.  With the majority of the prep work done it was all down to on the day setup.  Entries this year where low in the lead up to the event. A last minute surge in entries seen numbers slightly bigger than last year.
Lunch time Saturday we headed into the forest to mark out stages.  Although Davagh Forest trails has way marker points. The direction we take as a race sometimes deviates from the trail centre direction.  We taped off junctions and used arrows to indicate the direction.  After marking the junctions next was to set up the timing system on each stage.  We switched the system on and used our test card to ensure it was working.  We got back to the carpark and set up the registration area.  Registration was due to open at 5pm.  There were many riders already at Davagh.  The Northwest MTB Club had come over from Sligo.  They done a training day with Rosco Lines and stayed on for the Night rider.  Some had already signed up others signed up on the night.  Already there was a steady flow of riders coming through the registration area. I give the marshals their instructions and sent them out into the forest to get their position.  Riders started out on the climb to the top and stage 1.  The stage was set, marshals in place, medics roving the forest and riders on their way to the start.  I would also be roving between the stages.
 The night enduro follows a similar route to the day enduro with some small changes.  All trail centre based to make this event accessible to most riders.  There was a good atmosphere and a dry night really helped.  Trails had some puddles from the rain earlier in the day.  Despite this, the trails have more grip with a bit of moisture. 

Riders lit up the forest with bike lights and head lights.  The flicker of the lights and rattle from bikes resembled an 80's style video game.  Despite the riders coming through the forest at 30second intervals there was an eerie silence.  Watching riders finish each stage with smiles always helps ease the nervs.  With the event well underway I drove between stages making sure all riders and marshals were ok.  Updating the medics when a stage had been closed with our sweeper riders.  Our medical team have good knowledge of the area. They move between stages setting up at the most central location.  As stages complete they reposition, always staying as close to the action as possible.  Some of our marshals were also riding the event.  When the stages closed they then completed the stage. Riding around behind the main group completing the stages.  

The majority of the field had completed the stages.  While waiting on the marshals to complete the course.  I took a drive around and started taking in the tape and signs.  As I done a complete loop I drove back towards stage 5.  All riders had got through and our marshals were getting ready to go back to the main carpark.  Medics stood down with no actions always makes a good event.  There was a great buzz from the riders, as I got back to the cabin.  Comparing times and reliving each stage through animated stories.  Riders spoke about how it went right and wrong time wise for each stage.  Riders were getting warmed with soup, sandwiches and sausage rolls.  Others gathered at the screen comparing times.  When the final marshals got back we got straight into the prize giving.  

Kings and Queens of Darkness
 1st Female Molly Stack
 2nd Female Tricia Kelly

 1st Male Sport Conor McQuillan
 2nd Male Sport David Burns
  3rd Male Sport Kenny Graham

1st Male Intermediate Scott Nelson 
2nd Male Intermediate Bryan Conlon
3rd Male Intermediate Peter Wilson

Spirit of the Enduro
Alex Vibornijs & Dylan Harpur
Young 16 year olds mixing it with the adults and placing very highly in the overall results.

Thanks to all our Sponsors who help make the event happen.  Signal Signs have been a fantastic help this year.  Steelweld Fabrications for making our trophies.  Blackthorn Design for the artwork and trophy design.  The Shepherds Rest for the food and drink after the event.  Sperrin Bakery Draperstown for the rolls and sausage rolls.  Barry McGuigan for sweeper duties and the Photographs.

I also can't thank enough the team of marshals and helpers. They come up and make the event run like clock work.  Joan who puts on a great spread of food for everyone at the end.  S.T.E.P.S. Mental health girls who always get stuck in and help us in registration and catering.  Last but not least the Competitors.  I have said it before, We create the platform and the riders make the atmosphere.  You are all legends.     

Until next time.......

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Redbull Foxhunt 2015

Co. Down
4th October 2015

The Redbull Foxhunt is a role reversal event.  The Fox (Gee Atherton) is the hunter and the hounds (400 Mountain bikers) are the hunted.  The aim for the hounds is to stay in front of the Fox until the finish line.  In reality for most it is to get to the bottom in one piece. In what is one of the most crazy Mountain bike races you could ever take part in.  The Rebull Foxhunt is a fast paced race with potential carnage around every corner.

The event starts on Friday with registration and evening practise sessions.  On Saturday there was registration and morning practise.   New for 2015 there was a DH race as the seeding run for the main event.  Sunday had registration followed by morning practise and then the main Foxhunt event early afternoon.

Social media was full of Redbull Foxhunt pre hype.  Everyone was buzzing with anticipation at the chance to meet and ride with two time Downhill Mountain bike world Champion Gee Atherton.

I had taken part in the Redbull Foxhunt Cavehill Belfast event in 2012. I had missed the 2013 event in Rostrevor to do a race in Catalunya.  I had a fair idea of what lay ahead but numbers were up this year with a record 400 registered riders.  The event sold out quickly due to the high demand.

Myself and good friend Barry McGuigan decided to pack up and drive down on Saturday night.  We joined the rest of the Klunkers and got our tent up.  I haven't slept in a tent for an age and it would tell, with little to no sleep.
It was hardly ideal preparation the night before a race.  Thankfully the excitement of race morning cancelled out any bleary eyes. After a shower I was suited and booted ready for a fry in the Kilbroney Park Cafe.

We had to do at least 2 full runs to qualify for the main race. Everyone was issued with our Red Foxhunt hunting jerseys at registration.  Shortly after 9 Barry, Brendan McAleer and I rode over to the uplift tractors.
The tractor and trailer uplifts took us only half way up.  We had a bit of a push up to the starting point.  There was a chill in the air but clear skies. We didn't take long to warm up.  The push up path was steep so the legs, lungs and heart got a real work out.  Climbing out of the tree line we had a great view back down to Rostrevor village.  Well warmed up we didn't hang around too long at the top.  The plan was to get the two qualifying runs in as early as possible.  I took it fairly easy to get the legs and try and get a good look around at the possible passing places.  There was no point thinking about a racing lines. It was more getting as many options in your head as possible. Coming down with 400 or so others there is a good chance someone will be on your first choice line.  One run down we didn't hang about and headed straight back up for more.  This time I rode the top section at pace but slower down the last section. Stopping at a few areas to check out some lines and possible passing points.  When we got back down to the race village the place was bouncing.  Redbull Tent housed the DJ who was pumping out tunes. The crowd was rocking and ready for the final uplift to start the race.
The uplifts were in full swing.  Tractors, trailers and the East Coast adventure buses ran uplifts flat out to get the 400 riders up.  After the uplift we began the long push up the switch backs through the trees.  You could feel the excitement building.  Like minded warriors tooled up heading to do battle.   A sea of red lined the top of slievemartin between the flags.  Tension was building as the organisers and Gee Atherton posed for photos.  Cheers went up as Gee wished everyone luck. The Honcho media drone flew overhead, everyone waving their arms to show they were ready.  Gee rode across to his starting point and the count down commenced.  Riders pushed forward to get as close to the front line as possible.  The sound of pedals clicking into place, Gopros powering on.  This was it......

The hunting horn sounded with a prolonged rhythm of blasts.  I got on the pedals and pushed hard.  Banging bars and feeling bikes hit me from both sides.  Just as we made progress someone stopped in front of us and there was a big tangle of bikes.  I pushed forward hopping on one leg before getting clipped in again.  I cut to the right to try get a bit of free space.  The ground was rougher and the grass was deeper.  I dropped into a dip and rose back up out of a slight rise. Making a slight bit of ground to those on my right. The ground then fell away towards the bridge. 
There was a mine field of rocks hidden beneath the heather and grass.  Hanging off the back of the bike I kept off the brakes and went for it.  As I reached the bridge already there was a bottle neck.  I rode across the bridge and and with a blast Gee rode past.  I roared him on and then tried to get moving but bikes and bodies all tried to fit into the single track.  It was moving very slow as people pushed past on either side.  The movement in front was slow and we were being swamped on either side.  I tried to encourage the riders in front to push on.  Eventually it started moving and riders mounted the bikes and a slow pedal commenced.  I got to the side of the track and started pedalling past others.  I then went into a hole and almost went over the bars.  Thankfully the back wheel landed again and I rejoined in behind a few riders. Pace was slow along the red trail and I tried to relax ready for the DH section.  Turning off the red and onto the grass I passed a couple of riders.  I got on the pedals and pushed hard.  Dropping down into Stevie-D's roller coaster the pace picked up.  Shouting up front at slower riders, trying to get past on the rougher sides.  It was a gamble some times riders moved into the path brakes on and a quick change of direction.  The dual slalom parts of the track worked great for passing.  Drops, berms and kickers on this fast section of track.
The ground steepened and tightened into single track.  This was the start of the idms track and probably my favourite section.  We rocketed around berms in a train of riders.
As the ground flattened out a bit a rider went down in front.  Others locked up and we were on the brakes trying to avoid a pile up.  One man went to the side and we dived past.  As the track split two riders went to the right and I took the chance and dived left.  I cut across the path of the riders and got away in front.  This section crosses the road and dropped into the Pulse DH track.  Rolling off the fireroad crossing the trail cut through the trees.  A catch berm and a small drop off before joining the main track.  The next section had multiple lines with some natural sections cut through the trees and others on the trail centre DH trail.  I was going well but catching people and not getting into a rhythm.  Shouting up for passing points and trying to think ahead what was coming next.  On a natural section two riders in front slowed up.  I was coming in quick and had to drop down into a newer line.  As I straightened up ready for a drop off the rider in front went down.  A dab of the brakes but then I had to go for it.  Hucking forward I missed the rider on the ground thankfully.  Carrying the speed I caught three more riders just before a rock drop.
Looking ahead I thought about a possible passing point at the next hairpin.  Most riders went straight and I cut into the right sliding down a steep bank.  I rejoined the track sliding into another rider, shoulder to shoulder he went down but shouted for me to keep er lit.  I got on the pedals and pushed as hard as I could through the next bit.  As I crossed the fireroad I was again catching more riders.  There must have been about 6 riders all heading for the hecklers rock area.  One crashed over a rock. I got passed without issue.  Another went straight into a tree up ahead.  On the corner I had a rider on the inside and one on the outside with everyone trying to get on the same line.  I had to push and go for it.  It was like a slalom course in front with bikes and bodies.  I took a gamble and zigzagged through the fallen riders.  As the speed increased I felt a real boost dodging the riders and staying on.  I pushed hard jumping the next rock and rolled a wee double.  There was a small gap jump into the berm of Mega mission DH1 track.  On my last practise run I caught my back wheel. There was riders behind and in front. I played it safe and rolled around and dropped into the berm.
With only a few corners to go and the finish line jump I recognised one of the riders in front was friend Darren Wright.  There was also a female rider going well.  As we turned onto the tarmac I got on the pedals hoping to get passed both.  I went right but then Darren cut across right.  I straightened up and cut back left.  Darren passed the female on the right and I went by on the left pedalling hard up the finish line ramp side by side.  Darren done enough to stay ahead as we jumped into the finish area together.
What a finish to an amazing race.  The finish area was bouncing with music and cheering spectators.  Every rider crossing the line with smiles beaming from ear to ear.  There was a mass of red jerseys doubling in size as a constant stream of riders jumped through the Redbull arch.
The atmosphere was electric with stories of how it went for each rider.  Reliving every bit of action for friends. They compared their runs with similar tales of carnage and big smiles.  This event is total madness but in a good way.  I had got down in one piece thankfully. We heard of others with broken bodies and broken bikes.  Riders continued to cross the line and as the gaps got bigger some completed the course on foot.  Punctures, broken chains and derailleurs just some of the mechanicals.  Gee signed jerseys and met the riders for photos.  The organisers got most of the riders under the finish arch for a photo.
We were all on cloud nine getting photos at the finish arch.  I spoke to Colin Ross who took the win.  He told me about how he had a bad start and didn't think he was going to do it.  It was a super close finish with a great battle between Colin and James MacFerran.
Gee then came over and asked for a photo with me and the boys.  How could we turn him down and he jumped in beside us.
The event was another amazing experience.  It ran like clockwork and everyone really enjoyed it.  Irish Mountain biking is booming at the minute. Events like this showcasing to the world what we have here can only be a good thing.
Thanks to Redbull for another top event.  PlushMTB club who done a great job pulling the event together.  Stephen Davidson for his superb trail building skills.  Also Barry and all the lads for making it a weekend to remember.  More of the same in 2016.

Watch the video made by Honcho Media:

Monday, 21 September 2015

Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup Rd4

Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup
Round 4
20th September 2015

Donard forest park in Newcastle Co. Down played host to the final round of what has been an epic Enduro Series. Donard is somewhere I rode in the past but hadn't been back in recent years.  It was good to get back down riding here again.  Set on the side of Slieve Donard, the park rises up the side of the steep mountain.  The trails here are awesome, steep, loamy and technical.  I got down early to avoid traffic. I had a nice fry in Nikkis at the entrance to the forest park (Breakfast of Athletes)

Stage 1
Sign on and chip on the wrist we rode through scrutineering.  Bikes checked and up the hill to climb to the mast.  At the mast we rode up to the rocky out crop and got set.  We set of down the side of the mast and straight away we were into slippy conditions.  I had changed the front tyre to a WTB warden and was already glad I did.  Steep, off camber, roots, rocks and muck.  Stage 1 is always a nervy one for me.  Trying to get into it without over cooking things.  Feeling the front end grip on tight corners give me a bit of confidence so I picked up the pace.  Still riding very safe I made a few mistakes riding off line or too hot into corners.  Thankfully no big moments just too many small errors.  When the rest of the crew got down it was similar stories.  We had two go OTB (Over the Bars) on the finish line drop.  Best move of the day was for Brendan, mid roll diving for the line to ensure his time finished mid crash.  Thankfully Brendan landed on a soft spot and lived to tell the tale.  We had a long transition around the side of the hill to the quarry following fireroads as we went.

Stage 2
At the trig point on the quarry we got a good view of the start of stage 2.  Jimmy had a big moment in practise here and this had people taking a good look before lining up to start.  A steep start on rocky shale with a tricky section of rocks before rocketing into the forest.  The surface was soft in places but with every corner covered in roots it was a case of using trees or stumps to bounce off to get around corners.  I got caught out on a number of sections following the line of the trail but missing a turn.  The bridge was one of these sections.  I was pre-warned about it but just missed the turn until it was too late.  Another new section to me climbed up into the hill with a series of dips and turns before falling back across to the finish.  A very slow section for me again and any gains I might have made initially was lost along here. We had another long transition to stage 3.  A big climb finishing with a long climb on foot through the trees.

Stage 3
This was a great stage starting with a tricky rocky section.  Followed by tight twisty soft loamy surface.  The corners had grip if you pushed hard into them.   We crossed trough the wall for a flat out open section. Turning into a freshly cut trail which lead us to the first fireroad crossing.  There was a drop off the road into the soft grassy section.  Most were rolling this as there was a slight kink after the drop.  The stage flattened out with a long section that had the legs burning.  Back into the trees and the stage tightened up again.  More sections that lead off the main trail and not looking ahead caught me out a fair few times on this stage again.  The lower section I hadn't ridden so things came up very fast.  I was loose and ragged but thankfully stayed on.  A final bombhole with a corner from hell.  Roots everywhere I hopped straight trying not to turn on the roots.  This then ran me wide and to a stop back onto the pedals and I dived between two trees.  Both bars caught but my momentum carried me through unscathed.  The finish of another spectacular stage.  Back up the climb and across to the mast.  There was lot of climbing in a short area but something I was coping with.  Fresh legs from no Saturday practise probably helped a lot.

Stage 4
Starting from the same point as stage 1 but tracking around the opposite side of the hill.  I had rode some of this stage before so knew it would be a tricky one.  Some very fast steep sections with the dreaded off camber rooted lines.  I started this stage very fast.  On the limit in places but feeling good.  I got crossed up on one section and it took all flow out of my riding.  Trying to get clipped in again then when getting clipped in having to clip out that side for a corner.  I was just getting the pace again when the trail rose up killing all momentum and wrong gear had me ground to a halt almost.  A sketchy section took us across the fireroad into a steep slippy trail.  Very fast but thankfully I knew about a corner at the end of a big straight so I was well slowed for it.  Another stage done and back up the climb for the last walk to stage 5.  On the trek up to stage 5 the atmosphere was great.  Everyone had stories of near misses or crashes.  You could sense everyone was enjoying it but glad to be on the final stage.
Stage 5
The longest stage of the day had a bit of everything.  You could nearly say a perfect enduro stage if you where as Enduro as us.  With a long stage I had planned to take it easy at the start.  After the first few corners the trail started to flow and I was hard on the gas.  A trail like this drives you on and all plans of taking it easy went out the window.  Flat out along the first section through the wall and hard on the pedals for the rush down to the crossing.  I jumped off the fireroad and tried to keep the pace through the next bit.  It was very cut up and rutted.  Catching pedals and clipping in and out like my feet thought I was in River dance.  Rocky drops jumps and small gaps.  If I wasn't dropping off them I was catching a back wheel.  Some sections I had rode fast other days, I was very slow and making mistakes.  Getting tired and the slower pace always seems to make things worse.  There was another couple of moments of bad line choice before dropping back down into the finish area.  Across the line to finish 26th in my class and a top 100 place overall.
I was happy to come away with no major crashes. I had a great day on the bike and the first major race season done and dusted.  It was great riding with the klunkers, meeting new friends along the way and having a laugh. The Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup series in its first year has been Fantastic.  Massive thanks to Glyn, Cato and the mighty team behind them.

All eyes look towards Rostrevor in two weeks time.  Two times world Champion Gee Atherton comes across to try his luck against us ejits.  He is going to need all the luck in the world.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup Rd3

Vitus First Tracks Enduro Cup
Round 3
05th July 2015

With two rounds down the Vitus FirstTracks enduro cup rolled into Rostrevor. Rostrevor is known for its steep technical terrain. Glyn and his team used the best of this to test us sometimes to our limits. This round really did take it to the next level. 5 stages with three being natural Downhill trails and two trail centre trails. A course that would see us riding 17 miles with just under 4000ft of elevation gain.

Race village was set up in the Mountain bikers car park in the Kilbroney park. Vitus Bikes gazebos housed the Chain Reaction Cycles Mechanics and the sientries timing system. Sign on was quick and with my time already allocated. I was free to get the bike ready and join the rest of my riding crew for the day the klunkers guild.

We rolled out of the car park together with a beep from the start beacon. Heads down for a long drag up the infamous lung buster. Many choose to walk this and save the legs. Worse was to come when we past the Downhill trails. We took a left up into the walking trails that zigzagged up the steep face of slievemartin. Looking across to the red trail I thought it may have been easier riding the long way round. The calves took a stretching on this steep push up track. We walked up through the tree line into a mist covered mountain side joining the red trail. We saddled up for the short transition across the red to the top of Stage 1.

Stage 1 Boulderdash Black trail
After a good warm up getting to stage 1 we started on the mild boulderdash. We had a tough days riding ahead of us. One unlucky rider hadn't even made it to stage 1. Crashing hard on the transition, pulling out with suspected broken collar bone. This stage was trail centre grade surface with off camber open rock sections. Visibility was poor with a low hanging mist and a light drizzle of rain. I took it easy on the first few corners to get the legs working. After a few small rocky drops I got on the pedals. I pushed hard on a trail I knew fairly well. I had one moment on a rocky corner going straight on and loosing some time getting back on the track. With the first section nearly complete, I spotted the familiar figure of Warren McConnaughie of Industry Image photography. I give him a shout and set up for the wee rock drop.
We crossed the fire road and back onto the Black section. This part was hard to get flow going due to the design of the trail. Drops with landings on corners or rocks protruding onto the track. One caught my foot and had me off into the trees at speed. I gathered myself and got moving again, pedalling hard to the finish. We had another steep transition to stage 2.

Stage 2 Yellow water Downhill track
Now the fun really began with this full on track. I hadn't ridden this in practice so it was a case of trying to look well ahead and not make any silly mistakes. We started rolling down the hill and across the ford on yellow water river. There was a slight climb after the river, continuing with a fast descent then hard on the brakes. Turning into yellow water dh track already there was steep drops and roots at every turn. The track isn't overly steep but one you had to be on your game on. A big drop to the side of the track made you want to stay on course. We had multiple line choices over drops, around tree stumps and rocks spread throughout the tree lined trail. We skirted the banks of the river until reaching the finish just above yellow water picnic area. The transition to stage 3 was straight up the steep forest road climb which ran parallel to the track of stage 2. Another tough climb in the legs. As we reached the turn off for stage 3 we shouted words of encouragement to other riders on there way into the yellow water track.

Stage 3 Yellow Water Black
This stage was a return to trail centre grade trail. The first section was fast but tight. No major corners but trying to keep the pace up was hard due to the tight nature of the trees and rocks. The trail climbed slightly before a road crossing and the legs already felt the burn. We travelled across a rough section of rock garden slabs. Then a tight turn joining the red trail for a flat out sprint. I tried to keep the pace high tipping the bars on the slight kinks on the trail. Flicking and turning the bike trying to
dodge the rocks lined along the side. There were a few bum tightened moments when the toe clipped but thankfully it was only a slight brushing. A long transition followed the ulster way back towards Kilbroney. We picked up the horse track used for the cross country race climb and rode this back onto the lung buster. Another tight climb up to the start of stage 4.

Stage 4 Red, NPS, Caravan Return
We started on the red trail centre link up. A flat trail meandering across the forest. The tame nature of this trail soon made way to a steep technical roller coaster ride. I made the mistake of slowing to turn in where I thought the trail went. I then spotted the tape and realised I was on the wrong line and rejoined. I then pushed a bit too hard into the first steep section. Warren was on hand to capture me blasting through this section getting crossed up and having to dab the foot around a tight corner. 
Trying to get going again the bike bounced across roots and rocks. I was finding it hard to get the flow going and the track was ridding me. I was out of control but trying to keep the pace. At the fire road crossings I always tried to ease up to save a silly crash. Not looking ahead I nearly missed the turn back into the trail. With I tight turn I rejoined and dropped into the steep section. Rattling through a series of smoother turns I felt I could get a few pedal strokes in. I seen a gully in front. I had one eye on it and one eye on the tape lined trees I thought I would huck across. It was only on landing and falling away from the trail, I realised the tape had been broken and the trail turned left at that point. I scrambled back up the steep bank and hopped on the bike. Bouncing down the next section I really was all over the place. I heard Wayne calling out for a pound of sausages and had a good laugh still trying to concentrate on were I was going.
I crossed the fire road and as the trail smoothed out into trail centre grade I got on the pedals. This section felt like a tarmac road after the pounding I had taken above. One stage to go and one big climb to get there passing the start of stage 4.

Stage 5 DH3
I had previously ridden part of this so in some way knew what was to come. In racing scenario that all went out the window. A rodeo ride lay ahead on this tight twisty steep track. Over the back of the bike and with only a couple of pedal strokes I was already hurtling through the stage. Clipping the feet and pedals and dabbing the feet on many corners. One section I was bouncing on the back wheel. Every time I tried to get moving I hit a rock or unclipped.
I was still moving though and despite the terrible ridding enjoying the stage. A couple of dismounts and remounts, fire road crossings and crowd lined sections I tried to push on the smoother bottom section. This stage really give me a kicking but hearing the beep of the final stage beacon I sat back and rolled to a stop on the fire road.

The series was always advertised as getting progressively more difficult. This really was a step up but a good step up. I didn't ride well but I enjoyed it and that is my goal in this series. 21st in my category of Masters B and 97th overall.

Donard Forest is the Location for Round 4 entries are still ope:

Photos By Industry Image Photograph:

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Davagh Enduro and Youth Enduro 2015

After claiming the Mountain Bike NI award for best MTB event 2014 we knew we had to step up the game for 2015. With adult races and a night enduro organised in the past three years it was time to look at the stars of the future. 

This year we introduced a family fun weekend with coaching sessions and youth races. The races for boys and girls in age categories which included under 8, 10, 12 and 14. The purpose of the coaching and youth races was youth development while having fun.

Youth Enduro Saturday 27th June 2015
The weekend started with registration for the young riders. Sign-on and bike check from Chain Reaction Cycles mechanics. Once registered and bike checked the kids gathered at the pump track and skills loop. The weather was good and everyone seemed in great form. We wanted to make this event fun but also an event the kids could take something from. We had asked 7 time national DH champion Colin Ross from Rosco Lines to come along and do a coaching session and demo for the kids. The good thing about the Mountain bike community is everyone wants to help promote it and this event was no different. Carn Wheelers youth development members Shane Elder and Graeme Elliott had said they would help out and later we had Mark Harvey Cycling Ireland off road commission youth development coordinator offer his assistance also. Brendan McAleer from Peter McAleer insurance brokers would complete our youth development team.

Colin Ross and Mark Harvey split the 50 children up and took one set to the pump track and the other to the skills loop. Families watched from the side as the kids took it in turns to ride the tracks under the expert eyes of our youth development team. The guys then done a demo on how to approach different aspects of MTBing allowing the children to then put this into practice. It was visibly effective as kids started to look like proper little racers on their bikes. 

After the coaching sessions it was time for the children to get into their age categories and meet their leader for the race. It was the leaders job to guide the children to the start of each stage. Under 14 and under 12 rode 6 full stages and under 10 and under 8 rode only the final 3 stages. At the stage start they where greeted by a marshal who would set them off at intervals into the stages. The leaders rode the stages first and waited for the group to complete the stage before regrouping and travelling to the next stage together. Again to keep the races fun a parent was allowed to come and ride close to their children. Most decided to leave them to it only following after they had completed the stages. Something some of them had said was only possible due to the coaching session they had earlier took part in. Confidence is a massive part of MTB and seeing these kids gain that confidence and take to the stages was amazing. As the little ones took to the stages the atmosphere really built with the sounds of CRC Cow bells the families really helped make the race a memorable occasion. Once back at the race village the kids got fed and watered and made great use of the bouncy castles and slides that we had on site. The podiums took place to round off the first part of the weekends action. 

Under 8 Girls
1st Aliyah Rafferty 2nd Hannah Archer 3rd Lucy Williams

Under 8 Boys
1st Harvey Sinnamon 2nd Alexander Gray 3rd Phelim James

Under 10 Boys
1st Travis Harkness 2nd Adam Rafferty 3rd Ethan Davison
Under 12 Boys
 1st Darren Rafferty 2nd Dean Harvey 3rd Niall Clerkin

Under 14 Girls
1st Emma Elder 2nd Sarah Elder 3rd  Darcey Harkness

Under 14 Boys
1st Drew Armstrong 2nd Diarmuid Murphy 3rd Lee Harvey

Senior Enduro Sunday 28th June 2015
The youth enduro proved to be a success so onwards to the senior race. New for the senior race was the air timing system. This meant riders times were clocked over a rolling start and finish. A much appreciated addition to the event with this state of the art timing system. Registration and bike scrutiny took place by the CRC mechanics in the morning. Riders got their goodie bag, T-Shirts and collected their timing chips. A brief explanation of the timing system and they registered their cards. After registration riders set off around the 14 mile course. Heavy rain the previous night had created a few puddles here and there but made the grip perfect. We had 6 stages of varying length and added a few natural trails to mix to bring something new for 2015. The day stayed bright and with a forest full of smiling Mountain bikers there is no other place you would want to be on a day like this. All stages were marshalled top and bottom and our event medical team were on stand by should they be needed. Like any adrenaline fuelled high tempo event there is the odd spill here and there. Mountain bikers are a tough breed and thankfully our professional medics were not needed. The only causality of the day was a small generator that ran under our timing crews van. I drove around between stages as a roving marshal as radio and phone signals are not the greatest in Davagh. I could see that everyone was smiling, enjoying racing and the craic. Sure who wouldn't enjoy being out on a mountain bike with like minded folk. 
 David Burns ETCC using the racing line for a pass just before the line.

Racing was incredibly tight in places yet some categories had clear winners. Some sections designed to really push the riders out of there comfort zone yet keep it manageable for someone just getting into the sport. Stage 1 and 4 started with a natural section leading into a pedal fuelled middle section on trail centre trail finally splitting into two very fast flowing descents at wolfs hill and Big Wig Jig. Stage 2 started on a fast flowing trail centre trail. Mini table tops, bermed corners that kept the pace super fast. The stage then crossed a fireroad and dropped into a natural section. The stage ended with two tight switch backs and across a small bridge and over the line. The switch backs had a sneaky racers line that cut out one of the corners and was the scene of a few moments. Stage 3 was the popular run ragley run short and fast but made the riders work hard. Stage 5 was a long drag with a bit of everything thrown into the mix a real tester for the stamina. Fast trail centre descents with rocky steps, flat sections, climbs and the ever popular boundary rock. A slab of granite that kept the pulses racing before a small rock jump and series of falling berms to finish. Stage 6 was the reverse of the trail centre direction on a short punchy stage.
Colin Ross on his way to victory

It was great to see local mountain bikers on the podiums and finish with some great results. Alan Gilkinson of East Tyrone Cycling Club and Davagh regular took 4th overall and 1st in Male Intermediate closely followed by Philip Harkness of Carn wheelers in 5th overall and 1st in Male Sport. I was delighted to see good friend Barry McGuigan the first Draperstown man home in a fantastic 21st overall and 7th in Male sport. Barry has only taken up mountain biking this year and his results show what a bit of determination and hard work can do.

Senior Enduro
1st Lesley Archer 2nd Carolynne Ferris 3rd Susan Williams

Junior Men
1st Callum Coogan 2nd Aarron Mcaleer 3rd Adam Stronge

Sport Men
1st Philip Harkness 2nd Kane McGarvey 3rd Colin McQuillian

Intermediate Men
 1st Alan Gilkinson 2nd Adam McKeown 3rd Philip Mullan

Elite Men
1st Colin Ross 2nd Nathan McComb 3rd Glyn O'Brien

The event has an ever growing list of nationalities that have taken part. This year I spoke to a Bulgarian, Polish and South African rider. Others who travelled from as far as Wicklow, Galway, Connemara and Sligo.  

The family aspect really worked well with campsites full.  People staying locally all weekend was a great boost to the local economy.  We also had father son podiums, mother daughter podium and a father daughter podium just highlighting how much this sport is growing. 

This event wouldn't be possible without my right hand man Ivan Park. I get a lot of the credit for these events but without Ivan and the team it just couldn't work so thank you all.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors and helpers who have made it possible to run this event.
Our main Sponsor: Chain Reaction Cycles took along their mechanics and provided goody bags. Our stage sponsors:
Stage 1 Steelweld Fabrications Ltd Cookstown,
Stage 2 Meat at Regan's Draperstown,
Stage 3 The Shepherds Rest (Our official Camping Partner) Sixtowns
Stage 4 The Market Inn Draperstown
Stage 5 Diamond Service Station Draperstown
Stage 6 Peter McAleer Insurance (Event Insurance provider) Omagh

The signs, number boards, certificates and podium boards were designed by Jason Devine Blackthorn Designs (Gortin) and printed by Signal Signs (Omagh)

Catering by Joan Trengove
Sperrin Bakery suppliers of the Meat at Regan's Sausage rolls, Buns and cakes and soup rolls.
Wilson's fruit and Veg for the Bananas

All the Ladies and Gents from S.T.E.P.S. for helping with the registration and catering and staffing the kids play area.

Marga for keeping me fed and watered and helping with set up, clear up and van driver for course Marking.

Our Youth Development team:
Colin Ross (Rosco Lines MTB Tuition and personal training)
Mark Harvey (Cycling Ireland off road commission youth development coordinator)
Graeme Elliott and Shane Elder (Carn Wheelers youth division group leaders)
Brendan McAleer (Group Leader)

Our Marshals who do a fantastic job of keeping riders up to date and on course.

Gary McNamee who supplied the barriers to keep the kids play area safe and protected.

Keep up to date on all things Davagh Enduro on our facebook page.

Youth Race Saturday 27th June 2015

Senior Race Sunday 28th June 2015

Event Photos: